I, for one, welcome our new Robot Overlords

Farhad Manjoo over at Slate has a new series begun this week on whether robots will steal our jobs….An EOW topic?  You betcha!


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Here we have an excellent article pointing out some of problems we’re discussing here.  Recommended!

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Ultimately….whatever you want.

Yay!  Our first EOW video…and it’s about 3D printing.  How is this an EOW idea?  I’m struck when I read remarks about how younger people have less and less attachment to the physical objects related to music; CD’s and for an even older crowd, records.  All their music is on an iPod or in the “data cloud.”   I’m of the age where I still have an attachment to my CD’s….and I still have albums (no record player,though!), but I was glad to make the transition from records.  But there are advantages to not being beholden to the physical objects, right?  Maybe  I don’t want to read all my books on a Kindle, but if I can carry — how many?  hundreds? thousands? — books, all at the same weight, in the same physical space, a much, much smaller space than the actual books….there’s a lot to be said for that!

I thought about 3d printing when I needed a certain type of pliers the other night, a kind I didn’t have.  Did I really need to buy those damn needlenose pliers to use once every few years?  But if I had this device….I could ‘print’ one.

Indulge me a little here.  Imagine that these things get cheaper, better, faster….but not to the point they could replace everything, obviously.  But what if they could ‘print’, say, 40% of the basic physical objects of your home?  That would be amazing!  Let’s say you could ‘print’ a lot of your furniture (at least frames, say) in some sort of Frankenstein-meets-Ikea experiment gone mad!  Today you want Danish Modern, tomorrow…who knows?  Who cares?  Your mood can set the decor.  The term ‘bespoke’ which is now a fancy term for hand-made goods like suits may devolve to mean ‘not printed’.

Your EOW future may have you owning less and less…but having ‘access’ to everything.


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What are we buying?

All this wealth we’re building up….what are we buying with it?  I think the surprising answer is….ever greater connectedness.  I know that sounds trite, but it’s actually at the center of what we’ve been doing for a long time.  The telegraph, the automobile…these were tools to destroy the isolation of distance.  The telephone and television do the same destruction of isolation for the senses of hearing and sight.  (jokey aside:  Ever watch a cooking show talks up how they wish you could smell what they smell….”Smell-o-vision”.  My feeling is that if they ever get that technology to work online the internet will fill up with fart jokes)  And the creation of all our products?  I think the products themselves matter….but the where and how are of less interest to us, because they don’t make us feel connected, connected on our terms.  The manufacturing life, with its demands that transcend our interests….we came to see it as a chore, as something to avoid,….as “work.”  Oh, we appreciate the money!  Absolutely!  But, despite a large amount of cultural training in that area, it was and is something we don’t want to go to anymore.

Perhaps what we are starting to spend on is the deepening of how we earn our “living” (good choice of a word, really!) and we spend our days.  To really make that work we need an “Internet Plus”, the knowledge exchange functions we see on the Internet as well as other more formal connections to work, to supplies, to resources…we’ve just started this part, it’s like the highway system, circa 1920 would be for cars.  How do we keep fleshing it out?


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Are We Meme Yet?

In the comments in the previous post, Melinda (thank you very much, Melinda!)  puts a link to an Atlantic article “The Freelance Surge Is the Industrial Revolution of Our Time” which is right in the core of what we are talking about here at EOW, enough so that I felt it should be in its own post.  (Are we “EOWers”?  Can we have T-shirts?  Dental?)  It looks like the piece is the beginning of a series that the Atlantic intends to do on how work is changing, again, something that dovetails with what we are doing here.  Even just reading it gave me ideas on whole new things that will develop in the economy.  I don’t doubt that many “freelancers” (an oddly romantic military term!) want many of the things that people had in a more institutional, industrial era, but we will want them in ways that fit how we work now, rather than forcing people to hew to the older standards.   Just as an enormous untapped set of markets alone…..this has tremendous possibilities!


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Work is a shotgun wedding between two people that don’t even like each other.

They don’t want you there; they dream of the robot or clever piece of software that could take your place.  But, hey, you don’t want to be there!  Boring, mechanical, soul-crushing, they take your good ideas and find some magical way to render them inert, and make you do a bunch of silly nonsense because the management-consultant-de-jour said it would “improve morale,” but hey, why ask you about that?

You both know the reason you’re there:  the baby.  Er, sorry, “the paycheck.”  And you both took it seriously, because of the baby, er, sorry again, “work.”  But it’s wearing thin and you both want out.  You want to take care of what is important AND enjoy what you do; it’s not ‘New Agey’ to want this, and even more importantly, doing something that you genuinely want to do in a way you want to do it will relate to your economic success as well.   Perhaps over time we will see ‘work’ as a culturally lesser thing, something that robots do, and what we do will be, what, a calling?  I like to use the idea of a ‘task’, as ‘calling’ has sort of religious overtones that are not necessary   This notion of a task is something I’ll be devoting some writing to.  Thoughts?


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Go Far East Young Man!

Something Americans are not all that good at is languages, especially Asian languages.  But I suspect there are vast untapped riches in many Asian countries which could use a lot of products made in the US, products that take advantage of the technologies we have developed, and languages and cultures are major hurdles that need to be overcome.  I realize that many US companies have Asian branches that are there for manufacturing, but what have we done to develop the internal markets of these countries?  Perhaps we need a different approach that would allow us to more aggressively market there.   Or am I missing something that precludes this?
Do we need a different kind of company to address this ‘international marketing’ problem, one that places a premium on people developing skills that have before languished in universities, and not been connected strongly enough to the business world?


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